Are you smart enough to maintain your car?

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Here it is


If you can get past the 50 pages of how to operate the sound system and sinc it with your phone, then referring you to the CD with more complete information. See your dealer immediately if any of these conditions exist or if you drink battery acid, see your doctor.


I just received a new laptop battery. There were just a few instructions. One I particularly liked: “Never hammer a nail into the battery pack.”


One of my cars from years ago (either my '86 Taurus or my '92 Accord) had 20 pages explaining how to use your seatbelts.

My current vehicle (2011 Outback) has a separate manual devoted to the sound system, GPS, Bluetooth, and backup camera. That manual–which was clearly translated (badly) from a different language–is actually thicker than the manual for everything else.

People still drank battery acid 50 years ago. But they just, you know, died. Or at least didn’t try to sue the battery manufacturer.

And to any commentary about the ‘dumbness’ of today’s generation, @VDCdriver’s statement above about seatbelts illustrates the fallacy here. Even 20 years ago, it was still only 10 years or so removed from when many places started requiring people to buckle up. Let alone OEMs prior to the 70s thinking that there was no issue with putting someone behind the wheel of a multi-ton piece of machinery capable of 100+ mph, with no means of protection in case it suddenly stopped. You want to talk about dumb…

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Those cars were also far less reliable than cars today and required far more maintenance than cars today do (while getting better mileage and emitting less pollutants).

I was just posting an image of oldnotdeadyet original link to make it easier for all here. Not an opinion or response.

Mea Culpa :slight_smile:

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I think maintaining vehicles today are a lot easier then they were 40 years…considerably easier.

. Most vehicles these days don’t have adjustable valves.

. Don’t have to worry about points/condenser.

. No Zerks to worry about.

Somethings are more difficult on a modern vehicle…tranny fluid exchange…rear spark plugs on a transverly mounted engine. But overall I think cars these days are easier to maintain.

But the part of the equation is not just PM or repairs. From my experience todays vehicles see far fewer repairs. They are so much more reliable today.

I worked with computers for 25 years, parts become obsolete and that scares me the most. But that happens with old stuff also. Working on my 65 boat engine parked at the cabins 500 miles away, dual points if I recall correctly was having issues and decided to go to the parts stores in the 80’s to get a dwell meter to make sure things were right, as my dwell meter was at home. Parts stor counter guy was like a what? Let me ask an old timer. He comes out and says we have not sold those in years. So we fry a circuit board or something in the future, I fear they will not be available.

I was cleaning up my cellar over a month ago and ran across my timing light and dwell meter…I’m keeping them for nostalgia. About 9 years ago I was rebuilding a carb for a friend of my son’s. Went to Autozone (open on Sunday) to get a rebuild kit. They had one. I asked the parts counter guy if it came with a float…he looked at me like deer in headlights.


If I had a vintage engine with points ignition, that is the very first thing I’d change. Replacement electronic triggers are far, far more reliable than points and cheap enough to keep a second set on-hand if needed.

I understand carbs. I can rebuild them easily. But I’d strongly consider replacing the entire fuel system with throttle body fuel injection on any vintage car just for the drive-ability. No vapor lock, no chokes, no stuck floats and complete compatibility with E10 fuel.

Same for front drum brakes… they are going straight into the bin to make way for disk brakes.

I’ll never own a too-valuable-to-modify vintage car so I don’t give a rat’s hiney about originality, I want to drive it.


Sounds exactly what I’d do. Retro-mod.

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Today we can afford to pay for maintenance and infrequent repairs better than our parents could. This in addition to today’s cars needing less of both.

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I’ve still got my dwell meter in the original carton and I’m keeping it just to confuse the grandkids and in case I ever win a 57 Thunderbird.

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A friend tells this story: she had a teenage boy riding in the passenger seat. She asked him to close his window. She watched him, and saw that he didn’t know how to do…because it had a crank, no buttons!

For a bit of seriousness: the skills I learned in keeping my cars on the road starting in the 1950’s have carried me through life, helped frame my career and saved me tons of money. And my children still laugh at my challenges with computers and smartphones. Maybe I have gotten dumber.

When my city started recycling electronics at the waste center ~15 years ago my dwell meter went in one of the big boxes I took there.
I still have the Eico VTVM I built from a kit in Jr HS in 1973.
I use it sometimes when working on vintage tube gear. It’s indestructible.

With a little math a decent o’scope can function as a dwell meter.

It takes older people longer than young people to learn stuff. We marvel at how our 2 year old grandson manipulates has phone. Yes, he has a smartphone. It’s Daddy’s old phone, and doesn’t have a cell phone plan. It still uses WiFi though, and he summons You Tube to watch his kiddie videos. When it doesn’t work the way he likes, Krakatoa blows his little top. Wow, does he go ballistic. Hey, I said he’s two.

Could not afford an oscilloscope. I think it would take a lot of math. Kind of like in the new world of surveying.
The laser and Total station were not working and still having problems with GPS supposedly cm precision after correction. So I said grab a rod and the level we will get the info. The rod is an extendable pole measured off in .10 inches. The level is like a telescope. You start with 2 known points, an occupied and backsite, ie 2 property corners. Then measure angle, and the top hair in the level minus the bottom hair in the the level reading the rod times 200 gives you distance in feet. Elevation difference from the occupied point could then be determined, from a run to a known elevation, cross hatch on a hydrant bolt or 1/4 section marker etc. Survey was accurate as needed, who could even find a rod a level and know what to do with it these days.